MAN CITY 2, BORUSSIA DORTMUND 1
Two late goals from John Stones and Erling Haaland – one an unlikely source and one a highly predictable scorer – ensured Manchester City maintained a perfect start to their Champions League campaign.
It was a dramatic finish as for the first 80 minutes it had been a hugely frustrating night for City as Borussia Dortmund stole ahead through Englishman Jude Bellingham and executed their game plan to perfection.
But once City clawed their way back into the game, you always had the feeling they would go on and win the game which they did.
And City have previous history as they have now won each of their last six home Champions League games in which they have fallen behind.
City also extended their unbeaten home run in the competition to 21 games – 19 wins and two losses – as they equalled the previous best home run by an English side, Chelsea between 2006-09.Embed from Getty Images
Guardiola said: “We had a lot of problems getting rhythm and were passive in transition. We struggled and played in the wrong gear.
“We are used to doing it [comebacks] lately against Aston Villa, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. I don’t like it, but when we went 1-0 down in my first years here, we never came back
“The moment we changed rhythm with Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva] and Julian [Alvarez], we changed our pace and scored two excellent goals.
“I’m pretty sure the way were playing in the first half John [Stones] wouldn’t have had the courage to try it [his shot but we had the rhythm and momentum and we said okay it’s going to happen. It was exceptional. I’m so happy for him.”
On Haaland’s goal, Guardiola continued: “What a goal. I remember a long time ago in Barcelona Johan Cruyff, who influenced me as a player, manager and mentor, scored one quite similar against Atletico Madrid. It’s nice Erling emulated Johan Cruyff.”
Guardiola said of Dortmund: “They are an exceptional team. We knew it. We weren’t good enough today. At the same time, it’s always good to have that resilience – let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Having Julian and Erling in the box, having that alternative, it works.”
Haaland said: “In the end we showed what we are. This is what we are. This is how we have to play. I’m proud of the last 25 minutes.
“Nice cross [from Joao Cancelo]. It’s a really important win.”
On facing his old club, Haaland added: “It’s good to see everyone.
“They didn’t stop me… I scored. They played well. They were good. I was quite sure I was going to be followed the whole game because Edin [Dortmund boss Terzic] knows me very well. Dortmund were really good today, but three points is what matters.”
Stones added: “I’ve been trying to take up those positions. The manager wants us in those areas for things like that, to control the counterattack in good positions for balls coming outside box, picking up pieces. It’s one of those things. I was getting a few shouts and decided to pull the trigger.”
On the win, Stones admitted: “It was difficult. We weren’t at our best tonight.
“In the first half, we made it difficult and didn’t play at the tempo we should have. We didn’t use the ball well, we made sloppy passes. At half-time we had stern words between each other.”
City made four changes from last week’s 4-0 win at Sevilla.
Stones returned from injury while Ilkay Gundogan came in as captain against his old side and Riyad Mahrez and Nathan Ake were also recalled.
Ruben Dias, Sergio Gomez, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden dropped down to the bench.
Dortmund made three changes from their 3-0 Bundesliga loss at RB Leipzig.
Giovanni Reyna, whose father Claudio played for City, Mats Hummels and Emre Can replaced Nico Schlotterbeck, Julian Brandt and Marius Wolf.
There was no Champions League anthem for the teams entering the field or perimeter advertisements while there was also one minute’s silence impeccably observed while the City and Dortmund players also wore black armbands, all a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The first chance of the game fell to Dortmund in the 16th minute. The visitors countered quickly and Salih Ozcan’s curling shot from the edge of the box forced a stretching catch by Ederson.
City had to wait until the 26th minute – almost unheard of – before they carved out the first chance of the match as Joao Cancelo fired well over from distance.
Dortmund had a great chance soon after the restart after a swift counter which ended with Marco Reus cutting in from the left before bending a shot wide of the far post.
It was a measure of how serious it had become that Guardiola and his two assistants had a serious confab on the touchline.
But just as they were about to make a triple change, Dortmund stole ahead in the 56th minute.
Reus fired in a hit-and-hope shot from the left of the box and Bellingham anticipated it superbly to get in front of Ederson to head home. It was his fourth Champions League goal, the most by an English teenager.
That was immediately followed by Gundogan, Grealish and Mahrez making way for Bernardo making his 50th Champions League appearance Foden, and Julian Alvarez as a fascinating final half hour beckoned.
The triple change injected more pace and urgency into City’s play and Haaland came close to an equaliser. He was put through on the right of the box but his angled shot struck the outside of the upright, though keeper Alexander Mayer had it covered.
City equalised in the 80th minute with their first on-target goal attempt of the game from an unlikely source, Stones.
A raking diagonal ball found De Bruyne on the right and he squared the ball to an unmarked Stones who crashed a 20-yard drive into the roof of the net.
It was like waiting for the bus and then two came along together as City quickly scored again to take the lead.
Cancelo crossed from the left and Haaland stuck out a leg in-between two markers to find the net with an acrobatic volley high into the net from six yards, his 13th goal in nine games since signing for City and 26th in 21 Champions League matches.
City made a fourth change in stoppage time as Halland made way for Kalvin Phillips who was making his home debut.
Alvarez had a shot well saved by Meyer as City almost scored a third in the last minute.
But in stoppage time, Dortmund had a great chance to make it 2-2, but substitute Donyell Adeyemi shot wide when he ought to have hit the target.
The game may have been a slow burner but when it came to lift in the second half it ignited and didn’t disappoint.
Guardiola went on to the pitch at the end to confront Italian referee Daniele Orsata over something after a pushing-and-shoving incident at the death involving Foden and Bellingham with the City player booked.
It ended with a handshake and embrace while Guardiola continued to berate the match official.